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A Guide to Body Image: Navigating Social Media in the Digital Age

In today’s day and age, social media has a huge impact on our society. This can be both positive and negative, and in terms of body image, we are seeing more body positivity, but what are the issues of social media with body image?

What is Body Image?

Firstly we should start by addressing what ‘body image’ refers to. The dictionary definition is as follows: ‘a person’s subjective picture or mental image of their own body’.

Notice how it says ‘subjective picture or mental image’, as opposed to actual body type. People often correlate positive body image with having a ‘perfect’ body by societal standards – being slim, tanned, having clear skin, etc.

But in reality, positive body image refers to the way someone sees themselves and their body, and accepts what they look like and thrives by being confident about it.

What Affects The Way We See Ourselves?

Listed below are just some of the influences we have that affect how we see ourselves, and in turn, our body image:

· How the media promotes body types

· What people have said or commented about your appearance

· Struggling to find clothes to fit your body type

· Social media and influencers – comparing yourself to others

· TV adverts about what a healthy or socially accepted person should look like

While there are many other influences, these are just a few, and many, if not all of us are influenced by them in some way, shape or form, which can affect our mental health negatively, as well as our body image.

Why is Body Image Important?

To have strong mental health, having good body image is important. We should learn to not only accept how we look, but be confident about it. No one is perfect, or what the media portray as ‘perfect’ - we all have different features and flaws, and this should not be seen as a bad thing.

Body image can affect someone in several ways, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, low self-esteem and isolating themselves.

Body Positivity

Body positivity advocates for body acceptance of all sizes, shapes and types, and rejects social media standards that dictate how we should look according to what the media portrays.

It is important to not hold social media standards for how you or others should look. Instead, promoting body positivity and loving yourself no matter what is the best thing when struggling with body image.

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